You don’t buy a ticket for a movie called “Cocaine Bear” without expecting unrestrained chaos. It’s the elements you don’t expect that make this wild ride more fun. It’s directed by actress/director Elizabeth Banks (“Charlie’s Angels,” “The Hunger Games”) and fueled with her twisted sense of dark humor. It’s also very loosely based on true events; cocaine went missing in a national park, a bear ate some, died and this fictional plot was devised around that one sentence of fact. “Cocaine Bear’s” secret weapon is Margo Martindale as a gun toting, foulmouthed, lascivious park ranger, and whoever cast the Texas native in such a part. If you saw David E. Kelley’s “Lake Placid” back in 1999, starring a vulgar Betty White and a flesh-hungry gigantic crocodile, this is that, but with a bear on heavy amounts of cocaine.

A drug smuggler dumps numerous gym bags full of cocaine over the Chattahoochee National Forest near Blood Mountain. However, before Syd (Ray Liotta) and his boys can retrieve it, a bear consumes the white powder and gets a real taste for human flesh in his new state of mind. The old saying “if the bear is black, attack; if brown, lay down,” doesn’t really apply when either animal is on a drug-filled bender. Hikers, kids skipping school, tweakers and forest personnel are all in danger from the out of control bear. Local nurse Sari (Keri Russell) heads into the woods looking for her tenacious daughter Dee Dee (Brooklyn Prince) who skipped school to go paint the local waterfall. It’s only when Sari teams up with Ranger Liz (Martindale) they discover Smokey hitting the powder.

Dustin Chase is a film critic and associate editor with Texas Art & Film, which is based in Galveston. Visit


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